Monday, November 14, 2011

Another Criminal Prosecution In Equity Stripping Racket Ends w/ Conviction As Pennsylvania Sale Leaseback Peddler Defrauded 34 Homeowners, 14 Lenders

In Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, WHTM-TV Channel 27 reports:

  • A former East Berlin woman has been convicted of defrauding 14 mortgage lenders and 34 homeowners in Cumberland, Dauphin, York and Adams counties out of more than $6.2 million.

  • Joanne Seeley, 41, was found guilty in federal court Monday on four counts each of wire fraud and money laundering, according to U.S. Attorney Peter Smith. Each count is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine. Seeley was released pending a sentencing hearing which was not immediately scheduled.

  • Smith said Seeley, who now lives in Texas, was a Pennsylvania licensed real estate agent until December 2006, when she permanently surrendered her license in lieu of disciplinary action. She then became the primary owner and operator of a business in East Berlin known as S&D Property Solutions.

  • Smith said Seeley devised a foreclosure rescue scheme in which she would identify homes scheduled for sheriff's sale and advise homeowners they could avoid foreclosure by selling the home to her or one of her investors.

  • Seeley assured homeowners the homes would be leased back to them after the sale, and the sales would allow them to pay off personal debts, rebuild their credit ratings, and allow them to qualify for a new mortgage when they bought back the homes a year later, Smith said. She also promised homeowners that any equity they had in the house would be held in escrow after the sale as a down payment, Smith said.

  • Smith said Seeley either charged homeowners an extremely high commission or had them sign over their entire sales proceeds to S&D Property Solutions. No homeowner was ever able to buy back their home and no funds were escrowed because Seeley instead spent the money on her personal expenses, Smith said.

  • Seeley also submitted false documents to induce lenders into making more than $6.2 million in loans, but converted about $2.3 million from the loans to her own use., Smith said.(1)

Source: Former real estate agent convicted of money laundering, wire fraud.

(1) For more on sale leaseback equity stripping ripoffs, see:

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